Aperion Intimus 4B Harmony SA Speaker System

The Short Form
$999 (as tested) / Aperionaudio.com
A system that strikes a fine balance between size and substance-highly recommended for smaller rooms.
• Highly accurate sound • Beautiful cabinetry • Excellent customer support
• Small size limits acoustic output • Patience needed to find optimal sat/sub crossover frequency
Key Features
Intimus 4B ($130 each) -1-in silk dome tweeter, 4-in fiberglass cone woofer; 8 ¾ in high, 6 ½ lb • Bravus 8A ($319) -8-in aluminum woofer, 100-watt amp; 13 ½ x 15, 13 1/2 in (w/feet), 33 lb • Free shipping • Comes with free customer-care kit, including SPL meter, polishing cloth and handling gloves.

Aperion Audio started out in 1998 with a busted stereo and a $1,500 budget to replace it. Winthrop Jeanfreau's traumatic shopping expeditions to find decent speakers led to his unplanned resolution to simply build some himself. Aperion has since bloomed into a customer-direct speaker company whose no-nonsense designs, gorgeous cabinetry, risk free audition, free shipping (both ways), full trade-up program, and generous warranty have won over legions of savvy and discerning audiophiles. They just can't get enough of these speakers-or maybe it's the bags. To properly present its work, Aperion packs its speakers in plush purple-velvet bags with yellow drawstrings. As the name Intimus implies, the satellites in this system are diminutive in stature and designed for smaller listening rooms. The 4B is a two-way design with a 1-inch silk-dome tweeter and a 4-inch woven-fiberglass composite-cone woofer. Fronted by sturdy removable grilles, its sealed, furniture-quality wooden cabinets are a pleasure to behold. Beefy binding posts and wall-mounting slots around back complete the package. The 4C center speaker is a spitting image of the 4B, but its elongated cabinet provides extra room for a passive 4-inch woofer. The Bravus 8A subwoofer has a rather larger presence than the satellites. As its name implies, a substantial 8-inch downward-firing aluminum driver is onboard, mounted alongside an acoustic port. A 100-watt amplifier powers the driver. Controls include level, crossover frequency (40 to 160 Hz), and phase (0 to 180-degrees). Both speaker- and line-level inputs are provided. The Bravus is shipped sans attached feet, so it's up to you to choose between the supplied soft or hard spikes. (Padded mounting bases are provided for the latter.) SETUP

I carefully pulled Aperion's speakers from their velvet bags, checking to see if a good soul at the factory had also included bottles of fine whiskey. (Sorry, but no.) The quality workmanship evident in the cabinets and their comforting heft quickly reminded me that not all small speakers are made of cheap plastic. Although the assemblage was tiny, the Intimus 4B Harmona SA system seemed to promise good things. I placed all four satellites on speaker stands-the left and right fronts 30-degrees from the center-speaker position and the surrounds at 110-degrees. The surrounds were also set somewhat higher than the other satellites. The center speaker went on a shelf below my screen, while the subwoofer got placed about a third of the way in from the front sidewall. I initially selected a 100-Hz crossover frequency for all satellites when performing my adjustments. (Here's a bonus: Aperion speaker systems include a sound-pressure-level meter to help you with your own adjustments.)

I spent a good deal of time adjusting the satellite/subwoofer crossover frequency before finally alighting on a good setting for my room (110 Hz). But setup seemed to be trickier than with many other small speaker systems. (If your receiver allows it, you might want to lower the center speaker's crossover frequency just a tad compared with the other satellites). Although it's a fairly rare feature, I would have appreciated a slop adjustment for the sub's crossover-I sometimes found myself caught between "enough" bass and bass that sounded a little boomy.